EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Several stores were evacuated and parking lots cordoned off at the Oak Tree Plaza shopping center Friday after construction crews hit a gas line.

Police blocked off the western side of the shopping center at Fire Road and the Black Horse Pike, evacuating shoppers and employees from Sally Beauty, T-Mobile, Starbucks, Planet Fitness and Petco as crews from South Jersey Gas responded to the leak about 1 p.m. Friday.

Officer Chip Davenport said crews were excavating an area on the northwest side of the property where a restaurant is being built when they struck the line and accidentally caused the gas leak.

Neither Walmart nor Chick-fil-A was evacuated.

The evacuated stores had resumed business by Friday evening.

Sally Beauty manager Benett Bollinger sat inside a car with two employees from T-Mobile near the Starbucks on Friday afternoon waiting for the OK to return to work.

“Police just came by and told us we had to evacuate,” Bollinger said.

Renee Campbell, of Pleasantville, rushed over to Petco to pick up her dog, Simba, from a grooming appointment after getting a call from employees about the evacuation. Coincidentally, Campbell received the call immediately after a call from the Pleasantville School District to pick up her son, Matthew, after an evacuation at the South Main Street School. As she walked back to her car, Campbell was consoling Matthew, who was shaken up over the incident.

“Very scared, very nervous,” Campbell said she was feeling, but also relieved. “We’re safe.”

Pleasantville Superintendent Dennis Anderson was not immediately available for more information on what caused the elementary school evacuation.

Students at Mainland Regional High School also had a small evacuation in the science wing Friday after a box of hazardous materials was discovered in a science classroom.

“Our first response was to evacuate the science wing, contact the department of health and they came out immediately,” said Mainland Superintendent Mark Marrone.

The students were relocated to the gym during a brief investigation. The box was determined to be lab equipment from 30 years ago, Marrone said, and the area was deemed not to be in any danger.

Mainland students returned to classes after lunch.

Contact: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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